Samuel Umtiti has not played an official match with Barcelona for almost five months. It was June 27 against Celta in Balaídos (2-2), the day of the storm between Setién and Messi. Later, the Frenchman was called up against Atlético de Madrid, but did not play. In the following days, Umtiti appeared in the Barcelona dressing room and was erased for the rest of the season, alleging knee pain that did not convince within the club. The detail was not liked at all within Barça. And he has not played again.
But there was more. In the days of Lisbon’s humiliation, Umtiti was declared positive for coronavirus. And as soon as the preseason started, he relapsed from his left knee problems, those that have already had him out for 285 days since he played for Barcelona. Until he arrived at the Barça club, Umtiti had only been injured for 17 days in his sports career. Barça has been 468, more than a year and three months out of the four and little that he has been in Barcelona.
Barça tried to get rid of Umtiti this summer in every possible way. His name was on the PSG list, but was ruled out due to his physical problems. Then his home, Olympique de Lyon, appeared, but nothing happened either. Umtiti stayed in the locker room, where his way of getting out of the way last season was highly criticized for the team’s extreme situation. He started working and Koeman opened a door for him last week. “If he is physically fit, I will have him,” warned the Dutch coach, aware that he needs it minimally plugged in because the list of centrals is short.
It is the last train from Umtiti, which at just 26 years is not in Barça’s future plans, despite the fact that it has a contract until 2023; and that he needs to put himself at least in the showcase so as not to end up in the elite at such a young age. It is difficult to know how Umtiti’s physique really is. In the opinion of some experts, his case is irreversible, at least to play continuously. His refusal to operate, and the errors in his recovery, left the cartilage of his left knee in a state of weakness. He is weak in that area and cannot stand the pace of the games.
In recent days he has started working with the group. With Ronald Araújo injured from Turin, and the question of whether Barça will be able to sign Eric García in January, Koeman is obliged to take it into account because he has nothing else on the squad. It is something like a last train for Umtiti. Naked of credibility as he is, showing that he is still useful for Barça and that he can still be an elite defender is a challenge for him. It has been failing for several years. Koeman looks at him with a magnifying glass. Also all Barcelona fans, of whom one day he was an idol.